As family and friends gather together this holiday season, the experts from Risk Management & Safety want to remind us about the importance of fire safety. “We want everyone to enjoy their holidays without an accident, fire, or preventable medical emergency,” said Lewis Austin, fire and life safety manager. “Often, we become distracted hosting family and friends for the holidays. A fire can occur quickly, so remain alert to your surroundings.” Here are five tips to help keep your celebrations merry and bright.
1. Deck the Halls with Boughs of Safety
Keep safety in mind when decorating your home and office. Mishaps can happen when we fail to put safety first.
When using a ladder to hang decorations, wear closed-toe shoes and place the ladder on stable, even ground.
Check holiday lights, new or old, carefully for broken sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Do not use damaged sets.
Turn off holiday lights when you go to sleep or leave the home/office.
- Office decorations should not break barriers on fire doors (e.g. do not place wrapping paper over the top of a door jamb).
- Plug space heaters directly into a wall and place them three feet away from flammable items such as paper. Ensure they have a tip-over safety switch and are UL safety-rated.
- Never leave space heaters running unattended.
2. Keep a Safe Space For Children and Pets
Remember to child-proof (and pet-proof) your home during the holidays. Our fur babies and curious little ones are counting on us to provide them with a safe space. Be sure to:
- Keep children away from the stove while cooking. Hot food and liquids can cause serious burns.
- Ensure cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer, or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child or pet.
3. When a Fire is Lit, Be Aware of It
Flickering flames create a soothing atmosphere whether it's from decorative candles or a fire pit warming those who gather around it. Keep an eye on the items you set ablaze. One-third of home decoration fires are caused by candles. When your holiday fun involves fire, remember to:
- Keep lit candles away from combustible material (like wrapping paper or textiles).
- At home, never leave candles unattended or within the reach of children or pets.
- If you have an outdoor fire pit, keep a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher nearby in case of a fire.
- Use battery-operated candles for your office or at on-campus departmental celebrations — burning candles on campus is prohibited.
4. Take Care of Ye Olde Christmas Tree
Whether natural or artificial, Christmas trees can present a huge fire hazard when improperly decorated, positioned, or cared for. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments respond to an average of 160 home fires ignited by Christmas trees annually. Remember to:
- Keep Christmas trees far away from fireplaces or candles and make sure it’s not blocking an exit.
- If you have a live Christmas tree, water it every day. Dried out trees present a dangerous fire hazard!
5. Leave Fireworks to the Professionals
Start off 2024 safely. Instead of fireworks, use lights, glow sticks, or noise makers to ring in the new year. Each year, over 19,500 fires are caused by fireworks.
For those celebrating the holidays with a Christmas tree, recycle it after the holiday season through the Southern Nevada Christmas Tree Recycling Committee in partnership with our own Rebel Recycling. You can drop your used tree off on campus at the Rebel Recycling Center or at 30 drop sites around the city. Recycling your Christmas tree diverts excess waste from landfills and turns it into mulch for city landscaping projects.
If you have any questions about hosting safe on-campus gatherings or overall safety precautions, contact Risk Management & Safety at 702-895-4226. The team hopes you have a wonderful and safe holiday season.